From the editor-in-chief

 

Welcome to the latest IRUK Top500 Performance Dimension Report, where our focus is firmly on The Customer – central now as perhaps never before to the debate about the future of retail.

Just how do leading retailers best meet the demands of 21st-century shoppers? The question comes at a time when the balance of power has shifted from the retailer, which once dictated when and where customers could buy, and under what terms. Instead, the power now lies with consumers who can choose from a range that is, to all intents and purposes, infinite. They can also compare prices at will and move from one merchant to another, regardless of whether they’re home or abroad, at the click of a mouse or the swipe of a touchscreen.

This is the background against which IRUK Top500 retailers must now compete and in this Report, we’re asking how they do that in such a highly competitive market. We believe one answer lies in customer service, with this report investigating the standards that the Top500 reaches in this area, as measured through customer channels, responsiveness and web speed. We also note the standards achieved by leading retailers.

Our findings are both encouraging and not-so-encouraging. Some individual performances stand out but across the board, IRUK 500 retailers are still taking an average of more than a day
to answer an email, while 8% of our researchers’ phone calls were not answered at all.

Retailers that don’t compete on customer service will certainly be left behind by consumers who now value convenience (and, by extension, service) above all. This Dimension Report aims to highlight effective and practical ways of not just catching up but overachieving.

Serving customers in the ways they have come to expect – which now includes interacting through social media alongside the old standards of email and phone – is now a fundamental requirement in retail. Those that fall down on those basics will struggle.

In the year ahead we’ll be finding new ways to measure the customer experience, so we’re asking our readers to take part. What are the measures that are most valuable in assessing customer experience and service? Get in touch with your ideas
as we now turn our attention towards 2017.

Ian Jindal
Editor-in-chief
ian@internetretailing.net


THE IRUK TOP500 DIMENSION REPORTS SERIES
Don’t forget that this Dimension Report on The Customer forms part of our wider series analysing the performance of UK retailers.

Reports each year that focus on:
• Strategy & Innovation
• The Customer
• Operations & Logistics
• Brand Engagement
• Mobile & Cross-channel
• Merchandising

You can download the latest copy of any of our Dimension Reports, along with the overall IRUK Top500 Report here.

Once registered, we will also send you the latest Dimension Reports as they are published, allowing you to keep abreast of the latest developments in the industry.